Hospital Dr News

Hancock becomes new Health Secretary following Brexit resignations

Matt Hancock has been appointed as the Health and Social Care Secretary following Jeremy Hunt’s move to the Foreign Office.

Hunt, the longest serving Health Secretary, leaves after securing the promise of a long-term funding deal for the NHS and a cash injection of £20bn over the coming years.

Health commentators said Hancock’s biggest challenge is to make the health and social care system sustainable in a time of rising demand and workforce shortages.

The MP for West Suffolk was formerly the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Prior to becoming an MP in 2010, Hancock was an economist.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “We congratulate Mr Hancock on his appointment and look forward to working constructively with him on the development of health policies to ensure safe, high quality patient care.

“While there is a new secretary of state, the challenges the health service faces remain the same. Patients are facing longer waits for care, so-called ‘winter pressures’ in the NHS are now hitting the service all-year-round, and it lacks doctors, nurses, and beds.

“This appointment comes at a crucial time for the health service and doctors want to see the new secretary of state put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future, address the serious funding shortfall and ensure we can recruit and retain the right number of doctors, with the right support and infrastructure, to deliver high quality care for patients.”

Hunt’s promotion to Foreign Secretary follows Boris Johnson’s resignation over the Government’s approach to Brexit.

Last Friday, the Prime Minister brokered a “collective” agreement on proposals for the future relationship between the EU and UK.

However, Mr Johnson – whose departure on Monday followed that of Brexit Secretary David Davis and several junior figures – accused Mrs May of pursuing a “semi-Brexit”.

In his resignation letter, he said the Brexit “dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt”.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The great survivor as health secretary has moved on. His legacy will be a better settlement for health than many had expected and a real focus on patient safety.

“He inherited a tangled mess of a reorganisation from his predecessor and he had to live with a succession of austere funding settlements which were never going to meet rising demand.

“Given so little to play with, Hunt deserves credit for helping to keep the show on the road, but the health service – better in many ways – has also slipped back when it comes to meeting many of its core standards.

“His successor has one overwhelming challenge – how to help the NHS and the social care system to become sustainable in the face of rising demand and a severe workforce crisis.”

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